Welsh food and drink products the “golden ticket” for hospitality businesses

Welsh Culinary Association National Chef of Wales Competition at the ICC Wales. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography. PB007-2024

Hospitality businesses across Wales are losing sales and customers if they don’t use Welsh food and drink products on their menu.

That’s the wake-up call from Arwyn Watkins, OBE, president of the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW), an organisation representing chefs and butchers across Wales.

He highlights market research undertaken by the Welsh Government Food and Drink Insight Programme, which has been exploring the attitudes of customers towards Welshness since 2017.

“The pivotal question asked is: Does Welshness matter? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’,” Mr Watkins told the Welsh International Culinary Championships Awards Dinner at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales), Newport.

“Latest research for 2023 speaks volumes about the value of our heritage in every dish we serve. The preference for dishes made with Welsh ingredients rose from eight in 10 in 2017 to an astounding nine in 10 last year.

“This is not just a trend; it’s a call for authenticity and quality that only Welsh ingredients can provide. However, a concerning gap has emerged – only two thirds of businesses recognise the significance of offering Welsh food and drink.

“This disconnect between what businesses think their guests want and what they actually want is a wake-up call. We must bridge this gap, for Welsh food and drink is far more important than many businesses realise.

“More than half our guests would like more local or Welsh items on the menu and four in 10 would willingly pay a premium for dishes with Welsh ingredients. This isn’t just an opportunity; it’s a golden ticket for us to showcase our Welsh produce whilst maximising our revenues.”

The research also revealed that six in 10 visitors were more likely to visit a venue with Welsh products on the menu, with a quarter admitting that an absence of these options was a deterrent. Nine in 10 believed that venues should promote their use of Welsh food and drink.

“This is a stark reminder that we’re not embracing Welshness and we’re not just missing an opportunity, we’re losing customers,” he stressed.

“Welshness matters. It’s not just a badge of identity, it’s a powerful catalyst for sales and profit. Let us be proud of our heritage, embrace Welshness in our culinary creations and proudly promote this in every dish we serve.

“In doing so, we not only pay homage to our rich culture, but also pave the way for a thriving, prosperous future in the Welsh culinary scene.”

View the research results at https://businesswales.gov.wales/foodanddrink/welsh-food-drink-performance/value-welshness

Picture caption:

Arwyn Watkins, OBE, – “embrace Welshness in our culinary creations”.